Attorney Discipline

Attorney Discipline
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On October 23, 2008, the Honorable Robert K. Hilder, Third District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Samuel J. Conklin for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

In summary:
Mr. Conklin was hired to protect his client’s current wife’s assets. Mr. Conklin was given a retainer. Mr. Conklin set up a trust but would not relinquish the trust documents until he was paid additional money.
Mr. Conklin was also hired to do paperwork to establish his client’s current wife’s business. Mr. Conklin made errors in the Limited Liability Company (LLC) papers. However, Mr. Conklin failed to address the mistakes he made in establishing the LLC. Mr. Conklin requested and received additional money. Mr. Conklin did not give his clients a receipt for the monies. On numerous occasions Mr. Conklin’s clients requested an accounting of their funds, but were never given one. Mr. Conklin also failed to timely respond to the OPC’s Notice of Informal Complaint.
DISBARMENT
On October 17, 2008, the Honorable James R. Taylor, Fourth District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Disbarment against Troy L. Crossley for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4 (Communication), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), 3.1 (Meritorious Claims and Contentions), 3.3(a) (Candor Toward the Tribunal), 3.4(a) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 3.4(c) (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(c) (Misconduct), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
In one matter, Mr. Crossley was hired to file a bankruptcy. Mr. Crossley’s clients asked that the equipment they purchased for their restaurant be listed in the bankruptcy. Mr. Crossley informed his clients that the bank could not collect on the equipment after it was discharged. His clients sold the equipment back to the dealer they had purchased it from. The bank had a lien against the equipment and filed an adversary proceeding seeking a judgment against Mr. Crossley’s clients. Mr. Crossley put the incorrect amount of the equipment on the bankruptcy. Mr. Crossley did not explain to his clients how this error could effect their bankruptcy. Mr. Crossley notified his clients of the adversary proceedings. Mr. Crossley left the law firm he was working for and did not notify his clients. Mr. Crossley sent his clients discovery requests that had been served on him by the bank. His clients responded and sent the documents back to Mr. Crossley. Mr. Crossley failed to answer the bank’s discovery requests and failed to conduct any discovery on behalf of his clients. Mr. Crossley failed to meet with the bank’s counsel to discuss the pretrial orders. Mr. Crossley failed to respond to the proposed Pretrial Order and the subsequent motion to compel. Mr. Crossley was present when the trial date was set. Three days before trial Mr. Crossley filed a motion to continue. One day before trial Mr. Crossley filed a motion to set aside the pretrial order arguing that his mistakes were excusable neglect under the federal rules. Mr. Crossley stipulated, via telephone conference, that his clients owed the bank over $20,000.00. Judgments were entered against Mr. Crossley’s clients. The clients did not approve of the stipulation. Mr. Crossley’s clients learned of the judgment when they were closing on their home. When confronted by his clients, Mr. Crossley indicated they had lost and there was nothing they could do about it.
In the second matter, Mr. Crossley was hired to pursue a discrimination suit and a bankruptcy. Mr. Crossley failed to include the discrimination suit as an asset in the bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy was discharged, the court granted a motion from the trustee to reopen the case. The client attempted to reach Mr. Crossley several times but Mr. Crossley failed to return the calls. Mr. Crossley faxed his client the signature page of the interrogatories. The client requested a complete copy of the interrogatories but was never given one. During a deposition, the client was provided a copy of the interrogatories, and it was discovered that the signature on the interrogatories was not that of the client. Mr. Crossley had forged the signature and notarized the document. Thereafter, Mr. Crossley was dismissed as counsel from the discrimination suit. Mr. Crossley failed to provide his client’s file to the new counsel.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On October 20, 2008, the Honorable John P. Kennedy, Third District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against F. Kevin Bond for violation of Rules 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.8(a) (Conflict of Interest: Prohibited Transactions), 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property), 1.15(b) (Safekeeping Property), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
Mr. Bond represented a client in a divorce and other legal matters. Mr. Bond deposited money from his client into his firm’s trust account for unpaid legal work and a non-refundable flat fee for a slander and libel suit the client was contemplating filing in the future. Mr. Bond did not timely withdraw the earned attorney fees from his client trust account. Given the work performed, Mr. Bond collected an excessive fee in the slander matter. Mr. Bond performed some initial work on the slander matter but the client told him to hold off on pursuing the matter further. Mr. Bond did not refund any of the non-refundable flat fee to the client. Mr. Bond paid a couple of his client’s support payments to the client’s former spouse as loans to his client. Mr. Bond did not inform his client of the loan terms in writing, he did not obtain the client’s written consent to the transactions at the time of the transactions, and he did not inform the client of the client’s right to seek independent counsel concerning the transactions.
Several months later, Mr. Bond’s client petitioned for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Mr. Bond was served a subpoena duces tecum to produce documents related to the funds he received from his client when he was deposed as a witness in the bankruptcy matter. Mr. Bond objected to the first deposition because he was not paid the witness fee with the subpoena. Mr. Bond did not file an objection to the subpoena duces tecum for the second deposition or produce all of the documents requested although he asserted that some documents not produced were protected by attorney-client privilege. Mr. Bond did not promptly deliver funds to the Trustee or provide the Trustee an accounting upon the Trustee’s request regarding funds in his trust account. However, about two months later, Mr. Bond accepted a settlement from the Trustee, that was approved by the court, regarding the Trustee’s claim to the funds in Mr. Bond’s trust account. Mr. Bond’s client did not complain about Mr. Bond’s representation.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On September 29, 2008, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against John E. Cawley for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
Mr. Cawley was hired to represent a company in collection matters. In one case, Mr. Cawley was given complete information and asked to file and serve a debt collection action. Mr. Cawley had the case for over a year and within that time did not file or serve a complaint. During the time that Mr. Cawley had the file, the statute of limitations ran. During the course of the representation, Mr. Cawley failed to adequately review, diligently keep track of the matter, and files were lost by his office. Mr. Cawley failed to respond to numerous letters from his client requesting status reports on the case. Mr. Cawley did not contact his client’s representative before the statute of limitations ran to tell him of his difficulties in completing the work, thereby giving his client an option to hire another attorney before the statute of limitations ran. Mr. Cawley’s actions caused potential and actual damages to his client.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On August 19, 2008, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Bruce L. Nelson for violation of Rules 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.15(a) (Safekeeping Property), 3.2 (Expediting Litigation), 3.3 (Candor Toward the Tribunal), 4.1 (Truthfulness in Statements to Others), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
Mr. Nelson was hired to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a business associate of his clients. Mr. Nelson did not file an action for a TRO, even though his clients made it clear this was their primary objective. Instead of filing and seeking a TRO, Mr. Nelson got an informal, “hypothetical” opinion from a sitting judge. Mr. Nelson’s clients believed that the opinion was from the same judge that would be hearing the case. Mr. Nelson then told the clients that a hearing date had been set in the matter. Mr. Nelson’s representations that a TRO hearing was scheduled and that he had spoken to the judge deciding the matter were knowingly false. Mr. Nelson failed to correct his clients’ misapprehensions, which he had created by his misstatements. Mr. Nelson charged his clients for work he claimed to have performed but did not perform. Mr. Nelson deposited attorney fees in his personal account without having first earned the fees. Mr. Nelson failed to respond to the requests of the OPC, failed to disclose facts necessary to correct his clients’ misapprehensions, and was less than candid with the Screening Panel.
PROBATION
On September 3, 2008, the Honorable W. Brent West, Second District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Probation against W. Gregory Burdett for violation of Rules 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) and 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.5(a) (Fees), 1.16(a), 1.16(c), 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating representation), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
In one matter, Mr. Burdett was hired to represent his clients in a property rights dispute. Mr. Burdett quit private practice but did not tell his clients. Mr. Burdett allowed his clients’ case to be dismissed by the court and Mr. Burdett failed to notify his clients that their case had been dismissed. Additionally, Mr. Burdett failed to promptly give his clients their file and failed to respond to the OPC’s Notice of Informal Complaint.
In another matter, Mr. Burdett was hired to represent a client in a suit filed by beneficiaries of her father’s trust, of which his client is trustee. Mr. Burdett failed to respond to the motion for summary judgment filed against the client and failed to withdraw in a manner that protected his client’s interests. Additionally, Mr. Burdett failed to promptly comply with his client’s reasonable requests for information regarding her case, including repeatedly failing to respond to communication from his client and notifying his client that a motion for summary judgment had been filed. Mr. Burdett’s client terminated his representation in mid-August 2005, but Mr. Burdett failed to make any attempt to withdraw until October 20, 2005. Mr. Burdett failed to return his client’s file as requested and failed to refund to his client the unearned portion of the attorney’s fees that she paid him in advance. Mr. Burdett also failed to respond to the OPC’s Notice of Informal Complaint.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On September 23, 2008, the Honorable Jon Memmott, Second District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Brent E. Johns for violation of Rules 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.4(a) and 1.4(b) (Communication), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
Mr. Johns received a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for his approval as to form related to a divorce case in which he had represented the husband about nine years prior. After the divorce case had ended, Mr. Johns had no further contact with his former client. The ex-wife’s new attorney left the QDRO with Mr. Johns’s office for his signature even though the ex-husband had represented himself pro se in the last court matter between the parties. Mr. Johns’ office later called opposing counsel to pick up the QDRO with Mr. Johns’s approval as to form. Mr. Johns did not contact his client before or after approving the QDRO as to form. The QDRO was filed with the Court leading to an increase in the amount of retirement benefits received by the ex-wife.
After the former client retired and became aware of the QDRO, he confronted Mr. Johns about the QDRO and later pursued the matter in small claims court. Mr. Johns stated that he did not believe the signature on the approval as to form of the QDRO was his signature. Mr. Johns failed to investigate the signature on the QDRO which led him to negligently make a false statement to the small claims court that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.
STAYED DISBARMENT
On September 22, 2008, the Honorable Samuel D. McVey, Fourth District Court, entered an Order of Discipline: Stayed Disbarment, including license suspension of three years, and Probation against Craig M. Bainum for violation of Rules 1.2(a) (Scope of Representation), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.5(b) (Fees), 1.15(a) (Safekeeping of Property), 5.3(b) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistance), 5.4(a) (Professional Independence of a Lawyer), 8.1(b) (Bar Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(d) (Misconduct), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary there are eight cases:
In two of the cases, while at a law firm Mr. Bainum was hired by clients and accepted a retainer fee. In one of the cases, he deposited the retainer fee into his own trust account and in the other case he deposited the retainer into his personal account. In neither case did Mr. Bainum deposit the money into the lawfirm’s trust account.
In two of the cases, one in which Mr. Bainum was hired to seek post-conviction relief on behalf of his client’s son and one in which Mr. Bainum was hired to help corporate counsel prosecute a case in federal court, Mr. Bainum was paid $5,000.00 in fees. However, in the post-conviction relief case, Mr. Bainum failed to communicate to the client in writing the basis or rate of his fees; only met with the client’s son several times at the prison; and upon termination of the representation failed to justify his fee. And, in the corporate counsel case, after a return of the file, there was no evidence that Mr. Bainum had performed any work. Mr. Bainum also failed to timely respond to the OPC’s Notice of Informal Complaint in both cases.
In two of the cases, one involving the representation of a client in an assault defense and one involving the criminal defense of a client, Mr. Bainum failed to appear at scheduled court hearings. More specifically, Mr. Bainum did not appear at the trial in the assault case forcing the court to reschedule, and in the criminal defense case, Mr. Bainum failed to appear at two status conference hearings and an Order to Show Cause hearing. In the criminal defense case, Mr. Bainum made no effort to check the correctness of his address or the status of the matter with the court.
In one case, Mr. Bainum was hired to pursue a claim arising from an assault. The client tried to contact Mr. Bainum regarding the status of the case, however, Mr. Bainum did not notify the client of his departure from his law firm, did not provide the client with new business contact information, and failed to return the client messages left on his cell and home phones.
In another case, Mr. Bainum was performing credit repair services for clients and contracted with a non-attorney to assist him with these services. Mr. Bainum had direct supervising authority over the non-lawyer, yet failed to meet with each of the clients at the start of the representation. Some clients signed engagement agreements without first meeting with Mr. Bainum and Mr. Bainum did not meet with the clients to explain the legal consequences of the engagement agreement and the legal work to be performed. In fact, Mr. Bainum never met with some of the clients he performed legal work for and Mr. Bainum paid the non-lawyer 90% of the fees that he collected from credit repair clients.
PUBLIC REPRIMAND
On November 10, 2008, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Public Reprimand against Kent Snider for violation of Rules 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a) (Communication), 1.4(b) (Communication), 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
Mr. Snider was hired to pursue a domestic matter for his client. When the case settled, Mr. Snider failed to timely prepare the order reflecting the parties’ settlement. Mr. Snider submitted the order to the court without permitting the client to review it for inaccuracies. Mr. Snider also failed to respond timely and candidly to the OPC’s inquiries and to the NOIC.
The Panel found mitigating circumstances as follows: respondent was candid with the tribunal and seemed to accept responsibility for his conduct. The Panel found aggravation of: the respondent had prior discipline history.
ADMONITION
On November 10, 2008, the Chair of the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Discipline: Admonition against an attorney for violation of Rules 1.7(a)(2) (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients), 1.7(b) (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients), 1.9(a) (Duties to Former Clients. Conflict of Interest: Former Clients), and 8.4(a) (Misconduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
In summary:
An attorney represented two clients concurrently and sent a demand letter on behalf of one client while representing the other. Consent of both clients was obtained; however, the consent that was obtained was belated and uninformed. Additionally, at the same time the attorney’s firm represented one client, the firm represented the opposing client at a deposition. It was unclear when the representation of the adverse client ended.
The Panel found mitigating circumstances as follows: lack of prior disciplinary history, absence of any improper motive, and attorney’s relative lack of experience.

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